Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen #17)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Enjoyable characters and plot
Cons: Cliffhanger ending; usual complaints
The Bottom Line:
Series rolls along
With this diverting entry
I still enjoyed it

Stolen Blackberry Pie and an Accident

Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen series has long been a favorite of mine.  I find the characters fun, and recipes delicious sounding.  (It's been years since I baked any of them, but I keep thinking I need to again.)  Blackberry Pie Murder marks the latest case for Hannah and her friends, and I enjoyed it.

Hannah owns The Cookie Jar, a cookie shop in the small town of Lake Eden, Minnesota.  It's also a dangerous place to live since Hannah keeps stumbling over bodies next to her latest culinary creation.  In fact, as this book opens, the local newspaper is marking the four month anniversary since Hannah found the last dead body.  That's about to change again, unfortunately.  And in a big way.

It was a dark and stormy morning, and Hannah was driving on a deserted road when she slid and lost control.  Next thing she knew, she hit something - a something that turned out to be a man.  Now, she is facing charges for vehicular manslaughter.

However, questions are nagging on her mind.  What was the man doing in the road in the middle of such a bad storm?  Who was he?  Hannah and her family and friends begin to investigate.  Meanwhile, Hannah's mother is driving everyone crazy by not making any decisions on her upcoming wedding to Doc.

I have seen a lot of criticism for this book, more so than for the others in the series.  I can't say it isn't warranted, but it just didn't bother me.

Take the plot.  I found it entertaining.  I began to piece things together before Hannah did, but I didn't have everything lined up until right before Hannah figured things out.  However, the book does end with a pretty big cliffhanger.  Some were complaining about that, and I can see their point.  Me?  I'm anxious for the next book to find out what happens next.

I still find the characters charming.  They do fall into some types that keep them from coming fully alive, but they work for the story.  It certainly wouldn't be a visit to Lake Eden without seeing all of them.  The new characters are good as well, and made me care about the outcome.

Then there's the love triangle.  Yep, Hannah still hasn't made her choice between Mike and Norman, although it is pretty clear who the author thinks she should wind up with.  Personally, I gave up on this being resolved at least 10 books ago and can mostly tune it out at this point.  I think I'd actually be surprised if it were resolved, in fact.

By my count, there are 21 new recipes (with a few variations thrown in) in this book.  As a result, there is plenty of talk about food and baking.  This does slow the story down at times, but again it is what I have come to expect from the series.

Maybe it's just that my expectations are being met, but I am still enjoying my visits to Lake EdenBlackberry Pie Murder was an enjoyable diversion, and I'm planning my next trip to visit Hannah.

If you need to catch up on the earlier books, here are the Hannah Swensen Mysteries in order.


  1. I have a few of her books, but haven't read them yet. Love it when the author includes recipes!

    1. There are always plenty of recipes to be found in these books, especially the later ones like this one.